Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
HEADS were scratched when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp decided to start Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Saido Mane AND Sherdan Shaqiri together for the first time.
But as with the majority of the decisions taken by the enigmatic German, it didn’t take long to be proved correct.
For Swiss international Shaqiri’s shot/cross after 10 minutes caused havoc in the area, deflecting off a Southampton player and striking Wesley Hoedt.
The ball rebounded off the Southampton player and went in. It goes down as somewhat of a comical own goal, but not unexpected as Liverpool had spent the previous nine minutes with all of the possession.
Liverpool’s second came from the head of Joel Matip after 22 minutes. He rose on to the end of a corner, above a 6ft 7in Jannik Vestergaard, and put the ball home with ease.
An angry Mo Salah, seemingly determined to make up for a sub-par performance in midweek against French side PSG, made a lovely run into the box on 43 minutes with the ball and tried to pull off a cheeky back-heel finish. It went agonisingly wide. Thankfully, he could see the funny side of it.
But Salah scored just a few minutes later. Shaqiri’s freekick hit the bar, bounced out and the Egyptian slotted the rebound in with ease to make it 3-0.
Unfortunately for Shaqiri, he picked up an injury somewhere in the celebrations and was substituted for the evergreen James Milner at halftime.
After the game, Klopp confirmed that Shaqiri was in fact taken off for tactical reasons.
Southampton offered nothing in the first half, and, as has become typical of a Mark Hughes side, continued to offer nothing in the second half.
There wasn’t much to discuss in the second half. Liverpool was seemingly happy to sit back and pass the ball around, while Southampton were happy to do nothing -- as per usual.
Virgil Van Dijk came off for Joe Gomez, and Naby Keita came on for Georginio Wijnaldum, which meant that Fabinho is yet to make his Premier League debut for Liverpool. Whatever is holding Klopp back from unleashing his new mega-money signing must be serious, although confusing to the fans.
Salah did hit the back of the net in the 89th minute, but it was ruled offside – replays show otherwise.
Southampton FINALLY had a chance when Charlie Austin stung the palms of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson…in the -90th minute.
Credit should go to the away support. They never stopped singing, despite rarely having anything to cheer about these days, but cheer they do.
The victory makes it seven league wins in a row for Liverpool, and they haven’t conceded a goal at Anfield during that run.
After the game, a forlorn looking Southampton boss Mark Hughes said: “We didn’t give ourselves a chance in the opening period.
“I thought 3-0 was harsh.
“We had some good moments of play in the first half, but always looked a little bit vulnerable on the break.
“We were never going to test Liverpool in the second half.
“We’ll take a little bit of comfort from the second half performance.”
On the gap between the top teams and the rest, he said: “You have to acknowledge that Liverpool have a settled way of playing and they are building something clearly.
“They have the resources to improve when they are at the top end of the table, which will always keep you ahead of the rest.
“It’s a challenge that we have to deal with.”
He also praised Liverpool’s Shaqiri, who he managed during his take at Stoke: “I’m pleased for Shaq.
“He’s always seen himself as a top six player.
“I’m sure he’ll be a success here.”
Reds boss Klopp, who was taking charge of his 600th game of football, said: “It was good, but Southampton weren’t bad.
“All round it was a good performance and we controlled the second half.
“It was not easy (to take Shaqiri off) but it is my job to delivery not so easy news.
“His free kick was outstanding, as was his passing.
“Him playing was, offensively a good idea, maybe not defensively.”
He added: “ Van Dijk had a bruise on his ribs already, and got another hit there today.
“He should be ok.”
“Our performances have been good enough to win against different styles.
“The next game is coming and then more and more…which will be tough for all of us.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was at today’s game, in the crowd…wearing a Liverpool scarf. Remember, he’s an Arsenal fan. Or so he claims.
London mayor Sadiq Kahn was also in the stadium, although he was in the VIP area with a host of ex-Liverpool players.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson,;Henderson, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Mane, Firmino, Salah
Southampton XI: McCarthy; Cédric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; Targett, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu; Redmond, Long.